I’m very excited to introduce my first ever interview – it’s exclusive to G Views and I hope it will be the first of many.
This week, I got to sit down and have a chat with Girl Gang Manchester founder and theatre producer Megan Griffith to talk Mean Girls, immersive events and all things feminist.
What is Girl Gang Manchester and how did it form?
It’s a new collective of female artists who run events including socials, workshops, exhibitions and immersive film screenings. These events will be open to all genders, they’re designed to promote creativity and confidence and to enhance networks already existent in Manchester. Girl Gang Sheffield formed first in March 2015 – we held a couple of screenings and some parties there and had a really positive response, so we decided to try it out in Manchester. We knew that this city would benefit from having a platform dedicated to creative women, to both network and to take part in social events.
An immersive screening of Mean Girls – complete with themed interactive activities, workshops and performances – is your first event in Manchester. Why did you pick this particular film?
We’d already put Mean Girls on in Sheffield and it was successful – it won Best Single Event at the national Cinema For All Awards – so that proved to us that the idea works. It’s nice to be able to restage the event, as they take so much work for something that’s normally only a one-off, but we’ve got brand new workshops, activities and stalls for Manchester. Mean Girls meets all the criteria as inspiration for an event – it’s got a really strong theme, a world of its own that’s easy to draw on and a gang of girls! It’s a film that appeals to all ages, but particularly to women in their mid 20s, who are our core audience. That age is a typical time for reinvention, and developing a sense of who you are, so we’ve tapped into that by having sessions such as The Limit Does Not Exist, which is offering career advice. Girl Gang is all about using the mainstream to talk about and celebrate sisterhood – we don’t want it to be niche and Mean Girls is inclusive because it’s so popular.
Would you say that the Girl Gang groups were set up to address gender inequality? Either in the creative industries or in society in general?
Statistically, there are more women working in the arts than ever before – both at entry level jobs and as artistic directors of theatres and companies. The problem is really with the perception of women – in the workplace, men are typically seen as better at networking and self-promoting, while women can either get overshadowed or accused of being ‘bossy.’ So we wanted to create a space where women could self-promote and celebrate their achievements without that fear – Mean Girls is going to have an assertiveness workshop [There Are Two Kinds of Evil People In The World, People Who Do Evil Stuff and People Who See Evil Stuff Being Done and Don’t Try To Stop It] that addresses this issue. I think I’m most interested in combatting this kind of everyday sexism, and hopefully Girl Gang’s events will attract a younger female audience and make them more aware of its existence.
Feminism has really come to the fore in the past couple of years thanks to figures like Laura Bates and Emma Watson, but then there’s been a backlash with movements like Women Against Feminism. How do you feel about it all?
It’s an amazing time for feminism because there are so many different strands and it’s really entered the mainstream in the last few years. Something we’d like to impact on in a positive way is the idea that you have to fit a certain mould – be a) a woman and b) a feminist – when really you can be almost anything you want to be and so many (often slightly contradictory!) things at once. I think people critiquing other strands of the movement can be slightly detrimental to the cause and we want to try demonstrate the breadth of the movement, of women in their own personal terms and celebrate women for the differences as well as their unifications. Hopefully the subjects covered in our Mean Girls workshop – from cake decorating to maths challenges – will help to introduce that idea. People have been asking if boys can come – which they can, of course – but it’s interesting that that question is being asked, because we’re all so used to men dominating line ups at gigs, for example, whereas men might be more concerned about being outnumbered! This first Girl Gang Manchester event does have an all female bill, to start us out with a strong statement, but we do plan to include men more as the events go on.
What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
We have loads of ideas for possible projects – in terms of screenings, we’d love to do Bring It On, Bridesmaids, Clueless, The Craft and The Punk Singer. [Can I just say how excited this selection makes me?? – G.] I also really want to do a speed dating style event to help people network and make connections, so that they can collaborate with others and make their ideas happen. There is flexibility about what we can do, but we’re self-funded so we want to do things that will help us grow as a business – for instance create bespoke parties or events. It’s important that art and business can co-exist.
Girl Gang Manchester #1: Mean Girls is part of the Wonder Women festival. Are there any other events in the programme that you’ve got your eye on?
It’s a great programme and there’s so much to choose from – my picks would probably be What Is She Wearing? at Manchester Art Gallery, Fannie Sosa’s Twerkshop and the Here Come the Grrrls showcase at Band on the Wall. We sold out our Friday night event so fast and being part of Wonder Women Mcr almost certainly contributed to that.
I’d like to say a big thankyou to Megan for taking time out to talk to me. I’ll be previewing Girl Gang Manchester #1: Mean Girls on Friday 11th March so look out for my review next month! And if you want to check it out for yourself, you’d better get your skates on – Friday is sold out so don’t expect Saturday night tickets to last forever!